Radel in Possible Primary Peril

Posted November 19, 2013 at 9:35pm

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., said that he is ready “to face the consequences” of his cocaine possession charge, and some of them might be political.

Democrats concede his is a Safe Republican seat. So if his legal problems become fodder in his bid for a second term, it will likely be litigated in the primary.

One Sunshine State-based Republican consultant suggested that such a charge would not play well with the 19th District’s base of wealthy and retired voters.

Another GOP consultant, Mark Zubaly, agreed with that conclusion, noting the history of the seat. Radel came to Congress in an open-seat race to replace former Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who unsuccessfully ran for Senate last year.

“Basically, this was a very tough primary. There were some hurt feelings,” Zubaly said. “So all those folks, [along with] Congressman Mack and including a horde of talented lawmakers have to be giving it a look.”

Zubaly worked with one of the candidates Radel defeated in that primary, state Rep. Paige Kreegel. Zubaly added that term limits fuel ambition in the state house.

But Republican consultant Rick Wilson shrugged off Radel’s legal woes.

“It’s not like he’s Pablo Escobar,” Wilson said, stressing that the charge was a misdemeanor. He added that much will ride on whether there are further revelations and how Radel manages the fallout.

“It all depends on how he handles it,” Wilson said, encouraging Radel to deploy “a transparent, open, honest message and doesn’t try to spin it with some BS story.”